Currently viewing the tag: "St. John’s Lutheran Church"

by denise valentine

Hello, everyone. It seems that with the restrictions now being lifted concerning the COVID pandemic, there may be more picnics and gatherings this summer, as people finally begin to venture out and try to get back to normal activities.

It’s all happening just in time for those wonderful pot-luck picnics. They are my favorite because I love to sample all the goodies that everyone brings. There is usually at least one recipe that I have never had. I have a particular interest in salads of all kinds. I was looking through some of my cookbooks to find a fruit salad of some kind to make.

I find some of the best recipes in my collection of “paperbacks” from churches and other organization-fundraiser cookbooks. The recipe I am sharing this month comes from the Peace and Plenty Cookbook by St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thurmont and was submitted by Jean Myers. I hope you enjoy it.

Lazy Day Salad


1 large can of crushed pineapple (do not drain)                       

1 large can of fruit cocktail, drained

2 small cans of mandarin oranges, drained

1 large pkg. of vanilla instant pudding            

1 (8 oz.) container of Cool Whip


Mix all ingredients together and chill.

Blair Garrett, Gracie Eyler, and Deb Abraham Spalding

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come… I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise…”

These words are part of a Proclamation done at the City of Washington, the Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth by the President: Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was not the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving, and he wasn’t the last. Today, although the pace of our daily business has changed with the ease of technology, it is important that the foundation of thanks be reminded and put into practice universally, for it is a basic part of humanity.

For 126 years, almost as long ago as President Lincoln’s Proclamation, members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown have provided a community Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day in their parish hall. This year, the room was full consistently, as family-after-family gathered to share the homemade meal throughout the day.

Courtney Topper, a twenty-one-year-old member of the Seiss family, one of the long-time member families deeply involved with this tradition, has helped since the age of four. She said, “I’d rather do this than anything on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thirty-seven volunteers served over five hundred dinners and over one hundred carry-out orders. Linda Seiss, Courtney’s grandmother, coordinated the event. She said, “It’s the giving and joy and love that make this event so great! Everybody came in so jolly and happy… and so thankful. It’s a wonderful thing!” Linda tried to name all of the volunteers because, “That’s important,” she said, “Phyllis Kolb is known for her sweet potatoes. Everyone is overwhelmed by them. Then there’s…let me see, Madeline Valentine, Glenna Wilhide, Dick Wilhide, Bill and Regina Dinterman, Sherry and Melanie Topper, Vicky Troxell and her daughters Kelsey and Payton, Nancy Heyser, Judy Zimmerman, Betty Seiss, Dot Lare, the Ferrell Family, the Thayer Family, and my husband Frankie Seiss. We can’t forget about him.”

Linda said she hopes that the Thanksgiving Dinner event, “makes it to 200 years of Thanksgivings someday.”

At the Ott House Pub in Emmitsburg, the Ott family, extended family, friends, and sometimes people right off the street, gather to enjoy a pot-luck Thanksgiving feast. This year, one hundred and four gathered for this tradition at the family’s restaurant.

Their tradition started when Bernard Ott, a painter by trade, and his wife, Evelyn, opened the Ott House in 1970 as a hobby and “something for their son, Pat, to get into,” said Chris (Ott) Wilson. They had nine children, Buddy (deceased), Pat (deceased), Dave, Susie, Chris, Cathy, Bobby, Rosie, and Ritchie. Today, four are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of the business. At the time, the family had grown too large for any one’s house to host Thanksgiving dinner, so the restaurant was the perfect alternative.

To this day, the Ott House Pub still operates with about half of the work force comprised of family members. Most Ott family and extended family members have worked at the pub at some point during their lives. It is truly a family-run business. The Otts, Susie, Bobby, Chris and Rosie, and the greater Ott House family and staff wish the community a happy holiday season and expressed, “Thanks for all of your support.”

This year, as always, after our Thanksgiving feasts were consumed and our family members filtered home, the chaos of Black Friday arrived. The season of thanks continues and becomes the season of giving as the holiday shopping frenzy builds.

Many families see the end of Thanksgiving as the beginning of Christmas, pushing moms and dads to flock to the stores in search of the perfect holiday gift for their children. The transition from November to December brings lights, candy canes, and plenty of holiday cheer, but what is it that spurs shoppers nationwide to begin checking off those holiday lists one by one?

The holiday deals cannot be denied, with stores around the world slashing prices to entice customers to spend their hard-earned cash in their stores. Parents often begin gathering ideas for gifts as early as summer, officially beginning the countdown until the holidays. The holiday crunch is finally here.

There are a few different types of holiday givers, with each finding different ways to make their shopping and gifting all come together for their families.

The extremely prepared are the early birds who have their holiday gifts purchased and wrapped months in advance, hiding them in a locked-away safe place, away from the eyes of the kids. Then, there are the extremely unprepared procrastinators, who are scrambling to grab the latest and greatest gifts fifteen minutes before the doors close for Christmas Eve.

But, the majority of givers fall somewhere in the middle, picking a weekend here and there to peck away at their shopping lists, grabbing the final items just in time for family get-togethers. Though disguised in the materialistic shopping game, the togetherness and camaraderie of being surrounded by the people you care about most is what excites people about this time of year.

Events like “Christmas in Thurmont” and “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” in Emmitsburg give people a reason to cook, celebrate, give thanks, and give to others. But…don’t forget to take a moment, take a breath, reflect upon history, remember loved ones who have passed, celebrate the moment, plan the best future, notice the little things, invite the big things, live life fully, and appreciate family and community. Be thankful. Be giving.

John and Fay Holdner, Angel and Mike Clabaugh, Randy Welty, Mary Elle Goff, Jaylyn Shaw, Jess Shaw, Bill Thurman, Alice Thurman, Larry Gladhill, and Brooke Gladhill sit together to enjoy the community Thanksgiving Day meal at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown.

Linda Seiss is shown with fellow volunteer, Russell Long, in the kitchen at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Family, extended family, and community members gather at the Ott House Pub and Restaurant for a Thanksgiving feast. A tradition since 1970.


Recollections of the Civil War

by James Rada, Jr.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two articles recounting Sarah (Six) Schnure’s recollections of life in Thurmont during the Civil War. Schnure wrote her recollections while living in Hollywood, California, in the 1930s.

Sarah Six was ten years old in 1861. Her family lived in Thurmont, and Sarah grew up seeing how the Civil War affected life in town. Decades later, in the early 1930s, she wrote up her recollections of the war for her son. When the writings were discovered after her death, the Catoctin Enterprise published the writings.

Her first memory associated with the Civil War was when the entire town turned out at the downtown square to see the Thurmont men march off to Frederick to be sworn in as soldiers. She wrote, “Never shall I forget that morning that crowd of women trying to be brave and send off their men with smiles when their hearts were breaking.”

The men seemed excited, as if they were venturing off for a grand adventure. For many of them, it would be an adventure, since in the days before the Western Maryland Railroad reached Mechanicstown, they hadn’t ever ventured far from town in their lives.

In the years to come, the wives and mothers of Mechanicstown would live in a state of anxiety, wondering what had become of the husbands and children. News about the war did not arrive often. There was no daily newspaper and mail came only three times a week. The telegraph had not been installed in town, and the telephone did not exist.

“News traveled slowly and when there was a battle on, many days would elapse before any report of it reached our town,” Sarah wrote.

In support of their Union soldiers, the women of Mechanicstown would often gather at St. John’s Lutheran Church to bag up old linen that would be sent off to Union hospitals to be turned into bandages. Sarah and other children would do their part by gathering wild cotton that was also sent to the hospitals.

One night around midnight in 1862, the Six family was awakened by a barking dog. Then they heard Henry Foreman, the neighbor’s son, calling, “Get up, Mr. Six! The rebels are coming.”

The family got dressed and turned out into the street, along with the rest of the town. In the dark of night, they watched army ambulances come through the town with wounded that they were transporting to safety in Pennsylvania. They also came with news that the rebels had crossed the Potomac River.

Most likely, this would have been early in the morning of September 5. After General Robert E. Lee’s victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run at the end of August, Lee moved his army into Maryland, with the intention of securing a victory in the North. He wanted to keep his army on the offensive and influence the fall elections in the North so that congressmen and senators willing to recognize the Confederate States of America might be elected. In addition, Lee needed supplies for his army that the South was running out of.

As the army had approached Frederick, citizens, military, and patients from the United States Military Hospital fled the city.

As the ambulances moved through town, drivers and patients requested food and coffee. It was provided as much as the citizens could manage, but Sarah noted that because Mechanicstown had no bakeries, many homes went without bread for breakfast that day.

Some of the residents in town packed up and headed north with the army. Others hunkered down and hid valuables, livestock, and food.

“Mother had valuables packed and ready to flee into the mountain. I had few treasures but two of them were in my pocket—a small silk union flag and my treasured china doll,” Sarah wrote.

The Confederate army did not continue north from Frederick. They turned west and would go on to fight the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam before retreating south back across the Potomac.

The Two Doc Birelys

by “My Father’s Son”

A graduate of the University of Maryland Medical School, Morris Alleman Birely set up a medical practice in Thurmont in 1894. Birely’s lengthy career also recognized him as the longtime physician to the Western Maryland Railway Company and Emmitsburg’s St. Joseph College. Morris A. and wife Bertha Bushey Birely purchased the family home of Leonard R. Waesche at 19 North Church Street in April of 1907. Waesche owned the home, a few doors away and across the street from his mother’s residence, for twenty-five years. Still echoed today in local stories and accounts, “Doc Birely” was the name of health and medicine in our northern region between 1894 and 1961, the association split between Morris A. (in practice fifty-three years), and later his son, Morris F. Birely, who followed his father as a practitioner beginning in 1944.

The Birely home, built in 1874 by Charles E. Cassell, stood between St. John’s Lutheran Church and the former Town Hall, which also acted as an engine house for the Fire Company. The all-brick home featured a wrap-around porch overlooking the street, a semi-circular window framed by a turn-gable above the front balcony, and a turreted bay-window exaggerating its southwest corner (seldom visible in photographs, but occasionally appearing in the background of views taken of neighboring St. John’s Church). Cassell had his home constructed by brothers Leonard R. and James T. Waesche, who built many homes in town during this time. Most indicative that the Birely’s home was built by the pair is the distinctive aforementioned front porch.

Formed of concrete, the square paneled pedestals, shallow spandrel arches, and circular columns fit between, in addition to stylized cast balustrades with urn-planter terminations, make this porch the archetype of what became a Waesche signature, with variations later displayed on Waesche projects like their 108 Park Lane and 11 S. Carroll Street (soon to be demolished) homes, as well as the 1913 remodel of the former High School, once located between 210 and 302 E. Main Street, operated by Waesche as the Maple Inn. Waesche Bros. & Co. was started in 1871, advertising: Sash, doors, blinds, balusters & balustrades, newel posts, handrails, wooden mantles, moldings, brackets, circular work, washboards, casings, and all manufactured building materials. “We are prepared to build at home or abroad, from foundation to top complete, and finish in the best workmanline manner, HOUSES, on the most reasonable terms.” At least forty-six homes were erected before 1883.

Born Catharine Cassell, Leonard Waesche’s mother was sister to Abraham Cassell, Charles E. Cassell’s father. L. R. Waesche and wife, Mary Martha “Molly” Foreman, were conveyed the Cassell home in 1882 by Charles (Leonard’s first cousin) and wife. Matters further entwined, this conveyance likewise transferred Mary M. Waesche the home of her sister, Julia C. Foreman Cassell; the sisters having each married one of the cousins. This double-jointed relation made the collective fourteen children (eight Waesche, six Cassell) both first and second cousins simultaneously, and each father’s nieces and nephews also his first-cousins once-removed! The final four of the Waesche brood were born to the number 19 address, U.S.C.G. Rear Admiral Russell Randolph Waesche first in 1886, and Clinton Foreman Waesche last in 1895. The 1900s approaching, L.R. Waesche again became involved in the Catoctin Iron Works and left North Church Street for Catoctin Manor. Waesche retained the town residence until the family instead returned from the Furnace District to their newly acquired Park Lane property, Dr. Birely purchasing their previous home at this time. The home’s exterior would always remain unaltered, excepting the exchange of a window for a second front entrance leading to Dr. Birely’s office.

The same day Dr. Birely purchased his home, he, too, acquired North Church’s opposite structure, numbered 16, from Colonel John R. Rouzer. A masonry form of an early duplex, this structure was made of two nearly symmetrical “L”-shaped units mirrored together, forming an overall “T”-shaped footprint divided vertically into two units between the adjacent front doorways. A rear-sloping shed roof allows this surviving building to appear from the front as flat-roofed and three stories with an elaborate entablature, crowning the edifice to deter rainwater necessitated by the roof’s eave-less design. The left portion of Rouzer’s building contained son Morris F. Birely’s practice and residence with wife Louise (Carter) Birely, son Carter, and step-daughter Sandra. A living room, bedrooms, and bathroom were arranged on the second floor, while the dining room and kitchen remained situated around the doctor’s office on the entry level. The topmost level was a playroom for young Carter. The right-hand division was long rented to the Liebert Weddle family.

The senior Morris passed of a cerebral hemorrhage at home in 1947, after the game-six radio broadcast of the World Series. Wife Bertha Birely survived until 1957, at which time Morris F. inherited his parent’s estate, including the North Church properties. 1950 had replaced the neighboring Town Hall north of the remaining Morris’s parent’s home with a modern Fire-house separated by a narrow alleyway. Morris and wife Louise never relocated to his childhood home but continued to reside above his practice, instead renting 19 to Morris’s cousin’s son, Samuel.

Come 1960, divorce trials for Morris F. and Louise Birely were underway. Witnesses like Mrs. Samuel L. Birely of 19 N. Church Street appeared in court. The majority testified to a seemingly normal union between the Birelys, though some mention was made of marks or bruising upon Mrs. Birely, and recollections of allusive comments made by the doctor’s wife concerning her marriage. Proceedings also suggested excessive alcohol consumption by Dr. Birely on occasion and supposed resentment towards his step-daughter, which Mrs. Birely claimed her husband addressed by enrolling her daughter in private schools and limiting visits to the holidays. The Frederick News made mention of the strange distance also kept by the doctor from his own son, the boy’s discomfort at one point making him glad to “go to camp” to escape the house. Allegations of verbal abuse, recklessness involving automobiles, and telephone harassment after Louise relocated to Baltimore were also recorded. More particular to the case was the question of multiple diamond rings Louise claims were given to her by her husband’s late-mother near her death, which Mr. Birely demanded be returned.

Morris F. Birely was found dead in bed at the age of fifty-seven in November 1961. The Frederick News listed him and Louise as “separated.” Headlines following Birely’s death focused on the late doctor’s estate, in excess of a quarter of a million dollars (roughly equivalent to $1.9 million today), left solely to fifteen-year-old Carter Birely.

On July 26, 1962, the Birely house along with the Rouzer building it faced were purchased at public sale by the Guardian Hose Company for $15,200. Morris F. Birely’s practice and residence was resold to the Hammaker Development Company and has long been utilized as apartments. The 19 N. Church St. Cassell/Waesche/Birely home was razed in order to create a parking lot for Guardian Hose Company 10. Further expanded today, the unattractively utilitarian exorbitance of yet another new Guardian Hose building (c. 2007) lies crammed in the void, once partially filled by the disappearing quality of early American architecture exhibited in Thurmont by the Birely house for eighty-eight years.

19 N. Church Street: The Birely Home, c. 1874, as it stood in 1962 prior to expansion of the Guardian Hose Company (also seen in the frame).


16 N. Church Street: The home and practice of the Junior Dr. Morris Birely and family, built by John R. Rouzer in 1890.

Photos Courtesy of John Kinnaird’s


St. Johns Lutheran Church

Join St. Johns Lutheran Church in Creagerstown for a Celebration of the Birth of Christ Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols, followed by a dinner, at 5:00 p.m. Their Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. in their 1908 worship space. View the advertisement on page 25 for more information.

Celebrate Birth of Jesus with Trinity United Methodist Church

Celebrate the birth of Jesus with Trinity United Methodist Church in Emmitsburg during their Christmas Eve Service with Communion and candlelight on December 24, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. View the advertisement on page 26 for more information.

Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church’s Christmas Journey

Join Tom’s Creek UMC on a Christmas journey, with a Children and Family Service with song and story, a Traditional Candlelight Service, and a Traditional Candlelight and Communion Service. The Sanctuary is open every Wednesday in December for time of reflection and prayers. View the advertisement on page 26 for more information.

Live Nativity at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church of Urbana

Join Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church of Urbana on Sunday, December 6, 2015, for the Live Nativity, featuring live animals (including a camel), music, and narration. Show times are at 6:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m.; and 8:00 p.m. Admission is free. View the advertisement on page 24 for more information.

Deerfield United Methodist Church

Join Deerfield United Methodist Church for a Traditional Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. View the advertisement on page 25 for more information.

Thurmont United Methodist Church

Celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve with Thurmont United Methodist Church. They offer three different times and style options, including a service geared towards children and a service with different styles of music, the story of Christ foretold, candle lighting, and more. View the advertisement below for more information.

Weller United Methodist Church

Discover God’s promise of unending love this Christmas and join Weller United Methodist Church in Thurmont for their new sermon series, December 6-24, 2015, including Christmas Cantata on December 13; Longest Night Service on December 20, and Christmas Eve Services on December 24. View the advertisement on page 26 for more information.


Christmas in Thurmont 2015

This year, Thurmont’s Christmas in Thurmont event will take place on Saturday, December 5, starting at 10:00 a.m. on Thurmont’s Town Square. They will start with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m., followed by the arrival of Santa! They will have live entertainment by ESP Performing Company, hot cider, and cookies, along with photos with Santa for all ages! Christmas in Thurmont includes the business map-stamping activity for adults, grand prize giveaways, caroling, lighting of the Lions Club Remembrance Tree, and the lighting of the Town’s Christmas Tree.

Their goal for this event is to encourage a spirit of community and giving, and to also encourage our community to support local businesses. All of these activities and prizes are possible thanks to our business community. They are asking that you consider making a donation of cash/check, gift certificates, or merchandise for prizes. Cash/check donations are preferred, but all donations are greatly appreciated. All donors will be acknowledged on printed materials the day of the event, and also on and Facebook.

For more information, please contact Dr. John Hagemann at, Michael Hobbs at 301-271-2233, or Vickie Grinder at Donations may be dropped off at Hobbs Hardware, located at 15 East Main Street. If you are not able to drop off your contribution, arrangements may also be made for them to pick up your donation by notifying the above contacts. Checks should be written to Thurmont Main Street. If possible, please have your donations turned in by Friday, November 27. Thurmont First is a 501(c)(3) and your donation is tax deductible.


Christmas in Emmitsburg 2015

Emmitsburg’s holiday season includes many traditions. Mother Seton School third graders will trim the tree on the square on December 1. Emmitsburg Elementary School students will trim the tree in front of the Community Center on December 18.

Then, the community will gather for the 27th Annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” on Monday, December 7, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., beginning in the Emmitsburg Square. A tree lighting ceremony, caroling, and the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree will kick off at 6:00 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., Santa arrives at The Carriage House Inn, located just down South Seton Avenue from the Square. In and around The Carriage House, entertainment, refreshments, a live Nativity Scene, and hay rides will contribute to the holiday celebration.

From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., local choirs and vocalists will be featured in Joann’s Ballroom.

Experience the true meaning of Christmas Spirit here. Canned goods donations accepted for the Emmitsburg Lions Club Christmas Food Drive.

Traditional Village Christmas

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. (CFHS) will host the fifth annual Traditional Village Christmas celebration in this historic village on Saturday, December 5, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year, CFHS is honored to host local blacksmith Jim Maness, along with jewelers, yarn spinners, and other local craftspeople. Guests can sip apple cider and enjoy heirloom-recipe baked goods.  Kris Kingling, a village Christmas tradition involving masked and costumed members of the community who danced, sang, and ate as they went from house to house, will be recreated.

Catoctin Furnace maintains much of its original layout and structures, which were constructed primarily between 1774 and 1820. The village introduces visitors to the area’s historical importance and heritage resources, providing the look and feel of an early industrial complex yet retaining the charm of a small community at the foot of Catoctin Mountain. It is located on Maryland Route 806 (Catoctin Furnace Road) in Thurmont. For more information, call 443-463-6437 or visit

The Thurmont Historical Society’s Christmas House Tour is Back in 2015

Take the Turmont Historical Society’s Christmas House Tour on Saturday, December 5, from 4:00-8:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 6, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. The house tour includes four wonderful homes and two churches, for a new lower price of $15.00. Tickets and information are available at Hobb’s Hardware and Browns’ Jewelry.


Toys for Tots

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Reserve is once again helping children in our area this Christmas with their annual Toys For Tots campaign. Helping the USMC is Cub Scout Pack 270 with their annual Toys for Tots drive.

Boxes will be on hand to accept new, unwrapped toys at Food Lion, Mountain Gate Restaurant, and Hobbs’ Hardware, all in Thurmont, until December 8, 2015. The primary goal of the Toys for Tots program is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate children that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens, and so they can have an exciting Christmas. Please consider donating a new unwrapped toy. If you would like to make a monetary, tax-deductible donation, visit



The Thurmont Food Bank will be moving to 10 Frederick Street in Thurmont, across the street from the town park, in the building where the town offices used to be. The move will take place sometime in mid-to-late February, so watch for signs posted in front of the building. Everyone is invited to a grand opening celebration that will be held on March 7, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., with a snow date of March 14.  There will be refreshments, tours, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Please come and bring a food donation to place on the new shelves.

After the move, Thurmont Food Bank hours will be changing. The new hours will be Tuesday, from 5:00-7:30 p.m.; and Friday, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Donations of non-perishable food can be dropped off any time; please place them in the shopping cart in the entryway of the food bank. Both perishable and non-perishable foods can be delivered during food bank hours or on Tuesday mornings from 11:00 a.m.-noon. Please check to be sure all items are not spoiled or expired before donating them.

The Thurmont Ministerium—the organization that runs the Thurmont Food Bank—would like to thank St. John’s Lutheran Church for their generous hospitality in allowing the Food Bank to use their chapel and fellowship hall for the last several years. The Ministerium also wishes to thank all the loyal volunteers who work tirelessly, as well as the Town of Thurmont for providing a new home for this important community outreach. The Thurmont Food Bank’s motto “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” is proven to be true again and again, because so many people contribute food, time, and financial assistance. Thank you to everyone who has helped to keep the food bank going and to all who are helping with this move.